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12/08/2012 1528

DC Design - Imperator

Brazen, audacious, in your face, commanding!

All these adjectives and many more sit well on the DC Imperator but the essence of the world's first SSUV was always deliberately design led to pack in supercar looks with an SUV's muscle and stance. No one can quite fathom the mid-engine layout but the manner in which the engine and transmission have been located plus the drive to all four wheels has been engineered, the stance is near perfect but in a most demonstrative manner.

There is the clever interplay between colours and shades with the predominantly red body colour living in fine harmony with the glazed surfaces and that black swathe rising from the front windscreen on to the roof and sweeping down to the swoopy tail is decidedly the core visual delight on first look. However prepare to be dazzled because those mighty wheel arches are all sheer muscle, huge but fine toned and for sure in keeping with the sheer scale of the SSUV. The lines seem tight and tenuous but also sexy and inviting.

The only giveaways that it is a mid-engined vehicle are the two huge air appendages low down in the bodywork just ahead of the rear wheels. These feed air not just to the monster of an engine but also channel air to keep those mighty ceramic disc brakes in fine nick. The chassis is made of carbon fibre while the external skin surfaces are made of a mix of carbon-fibre and aluminium. In fact the fine mix of different materials into a cohesive structure is yet another pointer to the abundant technological skills within DC Design.

While stylistically the DC Imperator is super sexy, it never ever ventured anywhere near a wind tunnel and in fact DC Design opted to use CFD (computational fluid dynamics) to fine-tune the overall shape. The overall shape and surfacing was all digitized and then transferred into rolling sculpture replete with absolute state-of-the-art detailing all across the ample length and breadth of the Imperator. Computer simulations have revealed that the vehicle should be pretty stable even when being hustled at speeds in excess of 340 kmph, thanks not just to its wind cheating bodywork but also the clean flat floor and the rear diffuser systems mirroring modern day competition car thought. And there is of course the wide track, long wheelbase configuration that lends its own strengths to the overall dynamics and road behaviour of the SSUV. There is no lip spoiler at the rear of the Imperator, the Kamm-back rear end being given a most apparent DC Design tweak.

Sensuous, comforting, smothered in luxury, high tech. the works!

Now these are not just an additional set of adjectives for the exterior (though they apply here as well) but they describe the humongous interior best. Especially as this is so very techno in its treatment, and exquisitely crafted in the finest traditions of bespoke customization! Four individual seating zones with specially conceived seats adjustable for side and thigh support using air cushion tech that helps wrap the seat to the occupant's individual's physique.

The electronics are all DC Design's own handiwork, especially the fibre optics used all around the vehicle and in the interior. Drive-by-wire, steer-by-wire and brake-by-wire tech is now no longer a pie-in-the-sky fantasy but right here and operational on the Imperator.

The beauty of the design and the brilliance of modern day electronics make for tremendous versatility in the interiors. The floating dashboard and the steering system plus pedal controls can be switched very easily for right or left hand drive. An optimized iDCdrive system is employed on the central console to help the driver play with the very many gizmos in the vehicle. An HUD (heads-up-display) ingeniously positioned in the safest but most apparent field of vision is another key ingredient behind the overall driver and occupant ergonomics. The small bullet-style rear view mirrors are in fact rear view cameras which project the scene on to the cabin mounted RVM as well as on the large central screen should the driver need it.

The future is here and now!

The Imperator stands defiantly bold but purposeful and it quite clearly heralds an all-new way forward for high-speed all-terrain motoring. It is not just in the way it is made up but also the way it opens new vistas in the automotive world. Nothing illustrates this than the way its large single doors on either side swing open (using hydraulic actuators) to allow unprecedented space for ingress and egress.

Modern mechatronics has also seen to it that the Imperator packs in flybrid technology - essentially an electric motor wrapped around the V12's flywheel which helps in easy clean motoring in city centres. If that is not all, heat soak from the body, engine and other aggregates is currently being examined to help cut down power requirements needed to run ancillaries like the climate control system, the near-orchestra-specific high end audio system, the mood lighting system within the cabin and many other details which require power.

Making the ultimate statement

The Imperator is all about making the ultimate statement and you don't have to be a prisoner of tradition to tread the straight and the narrow or veer off it -should the need arise - when you drive or are driven in this all new species of automobile. DC Design's Imperator is not just a technology and design demonstrator but also a stunning statement of the future being closer and nearer to mainstream motoring than many of us thought it possible!

The world is fast changing and so are people's tastes in automobiles.

Given the changing dynamic in minds and expectations of consumers at the upper crust of the market, many have wondered why a prestige luxury saloon can't be both - a focused dynamic drive on tarmac at one end of the spectrum while on the other it has to perform with aplomb when motoring off the black top. And while transiting from the smooth to the loose and the rough and back, it has to do so with grace, pace and sheer panache. Tough thought this but an interesting one nevertheless.

This was the challenge facing DC Design, India's leading automotive design and prototyping firm. The Pune-based design house that has worked for some of the automotive world's biggest names and created a load of exotic automotive concoctions, wanted to do something extraordinary for a new emerging India. An India which is now firmly ensconced into the global automotive family and trying to assert itself, not just as an inclusive market or a hub for small cars or even as a worthwhile alternative for components to China but also one where individual avant garde thought processes are made and carried to their logical conclusion.

DC Design prides itself to be one of the very few in the world to marry cutting edge technology with traditional craftsmanship, also wanted to make a statement at Auto Expo 2010, both for itself and its expertise and skills as well as for India and its rightful place in the automotive world. Today India is the hottest automotive destination for the global car majors and Auto Expo is quite simply the best mirror for the world to look at India and its automotive capability.

So what could be better than creating an all-new niche which no one, not BMW, not Mercedes-Benz, not Pininfarina, not Bertone or anyone else had thought of!

The Challenge Behind the Concept:

Not many had ever done it and thus it was precisely this which intrigued the team at DC Design to venture forth even more audaciously than at any other time in its decade long history. The challenge it set up for itself was to merge supercar performance and style with an SUV's off-road capability into one unique vehicle. And yes it had to seat four in sheer comfort and luxury while motoring them around on road or off it. This was the holy grail of many an automotive design house and car maker, trying to create an all new niche vehicle which in a typical scenario, would be a characteristic amalgam of an Audi R8 sort of high performance machine with the go-anywhere capability of the Q7 with seating for four.

DC Design's sheer acumen in trying to push the design envelope was not just to create a concept on paper but translate the vision into a real breathing living animal of the type the automotive world has never seen. Till now that is!

And while there is no mention of this new species we have decided to term it the SSUV - an acronym for Super Sports Utility Vehicle. Just as we have seen specially configured versions of high power saloons and superbikes where the Super Sports moniker proliferates, we thought of creating an all-new type of vehicle, which would be more than just a moniker, and here it is, in all its glory and in a league of one - the DC Imperator!

The SSUV Style:

So you thought we couldn't get a Ferrari to do the business off road? Or if its rival Lamborghini wanted to do just that it had to go mainstream and make a grossly huge leviathan that was the LM002. We at DC Design decided we were going to change the rules, nay change the very game itself and the Imperator shows it quite clearly.

A super sexy two plus two with acres of space for four occupants which belies its size and has a commanding presence on terra firma, the DC Imperator is not just oozing style but also bristling with the latest tech. It sports a mid-engine layout with a sequential shift gearbox directing the torque to all four wheels. So far so good and conventional, but not when you fathom what the car is made up of.

Those large 28 inch wheels shod with 325/25/28 tyres are daunting enough to demolish mountains and for that the vehicle needed the right tractive power to get the job done. DC adopted the mighty 6.0-litre V12 TDI engine that powers the top end Audi Q7 but it has been breathed upon to deliver even more firepower. This unit, which normally delivers 500PS and 1000Nm in standard trim, has now been tuned to deliver at least 25 per cent more power and torque making it one of the quickest cars in the world.

A seven-speed sequential shift transmission was specially created to handle the prodigious torque - more than in a Bugatti Veyron! - while a stronger but lighter quattro all wheel drive system was adapted to the Imperator. The use of many aggregates from the top line Audi Q7 SUV was purely coincidental because DC Design needed not just a large engine but also one that was technologically proficient and could be made to torque loud and clear.

I-M-P-E-R-A-T-O-R Literally:

Wikipedia says: The Latin word Imperator was a title originally roughly equivalent to commander during the period of the Roman Republic. It later went on to become a part of the titulature of the Roman Emperors as part of their cognomen. The English word emperor derives from the Latin word "imperator", via its French descendent empereur. There is no direct Latin equivalent of the English word emperor, however - the Roman Emperors gained authority from a large group of titles and positions, as opposed to any single title.

IMPERATOR, the inspiration:

DC Design's core capability is to conceive designs and visions on wheels and so while the basic vehicle configuration was being crafted, the mechanicals were always going to be proprietary units, sourced from existing vehicles. However, when it came time to zeroing in on the right ingredients, the German marques were always in focus and while V8s, VIOs and V12s were looked at quite closely along with matching drivelines, the quattro all wheel drive system and the lure that went with it was obviously not lost on the designers and engineering team at DC Design. Torque of the type possible from a large displacement engine was the key factor for the performance and all-terrain capability needed for the Imperator and so Audi's proven 6.0-litre V12 TDI was the logical shoe-in.

In the midst of all the Audi-sourced hardware, the DC Design team stumbled upon the Imperator name, which, as it so happened, once adorned the large luxo-tourer, made by the firm in the 1930s! The Audi Imperators of that period were large graceful tourers carrying handsome coachwork and powered by some of the most powerful and exotic engines befitting their use by kings and royalty.

source: DC Design. Please mention www.allcarindex.com when using this text.

Engine & performance:

Type: Audi Q7, V12, TDI

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2010  New Delhi

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Provided by Robert Jablonski 

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